Fiction

Cold

By April M. Fecca

The faucet dripped - tap, tap, tap - counting out each second they had sat in the cold, beige motel room since midnight. The sun was beginning to break the sky, and she was shivering from the early morning cold, but she wouldn’t get under the blankets of the bed. Just sat on top of them, not looking at him.

“I’m not going anywhere until you let me in.”

He had long ago pulled on his big, charcoal sweater, the one she had gleefully pulled off the first night they fucked, the second night they met. He sat in the wood and vinyl chair, pulled up beside the bed. One arm was crossed over his concave stomach; one thumbnail was in his mouth, between his teeth. He had been looking at her so long that he could see the inverse of her image etched inside his eyelids when he blinked. Just like she had been burned into other parts of his body.

The air conditioner clicked, clicked, then kicked on. He let it. If she got cold enough, maybe she would actually let him touch her again.

He had fallen in love the moment he unhooked her bra that second night. She began to pull away right after the last moan.

Her gaze, so long focused on the sleeping television, was pulled to the window that was hidden by big, heavy, red drapes. She listened with her eyes to the staccato buzz of a panicked fly. It threw its body repeatedly into the glass, hoping to pass through to the outside.

A month ago, he had noticed the pregnancy test stick in her bathroom trash. Plus for positive. Now here he was in the ninth hour of trying to get her to tell him what he already knew. They were just outside of Cheyenne. They were on their way to Thanksgiving dinner.

The words had run out hours ago. Now there was the tapping, the clicking, the whirring, the rush of wind from a passing big rig, the grumble of her stomach.

He thought about her stomach and sniffed hard.

She had laughed so much the first night they met. Had touched his hand, touched his arm, his shoulder, his hair. Had smiled directly into his eyes. Had sounded so smooth, sweet, sly when he had called her three days later.

He hadn’t heard her laugh in three months.

He had heard her cry in her sleep the night before.

He pinched the bridge of his nose between his middle finger and thumb. “Je t’aime,” he breathed, as if he was saying, “I’m sorry.”

Another eternity passed.

He hadn’t noticed the drawing away at first. He was blind, stupid, happy in love. Infatuation. Obsession. Whatever. She accepted him, accepted his gifts, accepted his cock. Happily. Seemingly.

Then her fingers grew cold. Touching him less and less. Her eyes glazed over, the light inside dimming, her gaze receding inside. Her words became less. Her silence grew huge, until he was trapped inside it.

“Je t’aime,” he had told her, reverting to his native tongue in the vulnerable moment of admission.

She never said it back. In any language.

But the more she tried to shut him out, the harder he tried to crawl inside.

“I’m cold,” she finally said, and when he looked up, she was looking back at him.

Not wasting any time or words, he got up from the chair, climbed onto the bed, gathered her into his arms.

He held her, he held her, stroked her, touched her, felt her damp breath on his neck. He kissed her eyelid, touched her cheek, let his fingers slide down her neck and felt the pulse there, the blood inside of her, where he wanted to be. His hand dropped down, brushed her breast, and through the thin layer of her shirt, he felt her nipple. Hard. He grew dizzy. He brought his hand back up to her breast and cradled it.

He looked down at her face. He kissed her mouth. For the first time in two months, she didn’t stop him. He slid his hand down her stomach, between her thighs.

Warm.

She unbuttoned her shirt to him. He slid his hand inside. A small gasp from her mouth as his palm moved over her naked breast. Her fingers in his hair as he put his mouth to her nipple. A moan.

He was pulling her hand down to touch him when she said, “Wait. I want to open myself to you.”

She rose from the bed and dug through her duffle bag that sat on the luggage rack beside the bed. He smiled at the shape of her backside. He assumed she was getting a condom.

Until he realized they didn’t need them anymore.

Then the sharp motion with both her arms, and the grunt.

Then the downward pull.

Then the turn, and the shine off the crimsoned scissors as she held her arms akimbo.

The flowing, red slit.

“Now… come inside.”

***

When he woke, he headed straight out into the sun. Squinted. Turned left.